The 94-year-old broadcaster called for a renewed focus on the issue and suggested the outbreak could result in increased co-operation between the nations of the world.
“The trouble is that right now the climate issue is also seen as being rather in the distant future because we’ve got the virus to think about,” he said during an appearance on the So Hot Right Now podcast.
“And so what are the papers full of? The virus. Quite right, that’s what I want to know about, too.
“But we have to make sure that this issue, which was coming to the boil with the next COP meeting in Glasgow, has suddenly been swept off the front pages. And we’ve got to get it back there.”
Asked whether he saw a solution to the decreased awareness of climate change, he said: “No, if I knew that I would be a dictator but I’m not. I don’t know – we, you and me and lots of others like us have got to keep on going on about it but the clock is ticking.
“The danger of the Arctic and the Antarctic warming is becoming greater day by day.”
Sir David added: “What the result of coronavirus is going to be I don’t know. But I’m beginning to get a feeling that for the first time the nations of the world are beginning to see that survival depends on co-operation. If that happens, that’s going to be a first in human history.”
He also praised climate activist Greta Thunberg, 17, for galvanising the youth and following the science.
“I think she’s very remarkable,” he said. “And what is more she is, with all that power, she is nonetheless extremely modest.
“She is extremely well informed. But she’s also very modest. And she keeps saying: Look, the only guide has to be the science, we must follow what the science says.”
Sir David is the first guest to appear on the podcast about communication and climate change and his episode will be available from Tuesday.
Former Irish president Mary Robinson, singer Ellie Goulding and UN climate negotiator Christiana Figueres will also feature in the series, which is hosted by journalist Lucy Siegle and film-maker Tom Mustill.
Additional reporting by Press Association